Holy Cross High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian: Tori Kovalchick

HC Valedictorian - Tori KovalchickBy Steve Svetovich

Tori Kovalchick learned a lot time ago that hard work pays off.

The Holy Cross graduating senior is her school’s valedictorian as she sets her sights on attending Penn State University in the fall.

Graduating with a 4.27 grade point average, Tori will attend the Schreyer Honors College while studying chemical engineering at Penn State’s main campus in State College.

Daughter of Fred and Greta Kovalchick, the well-spoken and articulate senior said she learned the value of hard work from her parents.

“My parents always taught me about the value of hard work,” she said. “If you put your best effort forward, you will get great results.”

Tori said her best and favorite subject is science. She was the recipient of the Bausch Lamb Honorary Science Award from the University of Rochester.

Tori received medals for the past three years for the National Latin exam. 

Polite and intellectual, Tori is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, the Pro Life Club and is class secretary.

She talked about her decision to study chemical engineering. “Well, I wanted to combine math and science while working in a profession to help serve others.

“I hope to perform research for a pharmaceutical engineering firm to help improve modern medicine.”

Tori said she has been keeping busy with school work and family during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I have been very busy doing my school work and applying for college scholarships. I have also been enjoying time with my family before I go off to college. I am spending as much time as I can with them. I am also taking time to enjoy the outdoors.”

A National Merit Commended Scholar, Tori said she has many hobbies, including playing piano and saxophone, cooking and baking, and watching musical theatre. 

She is very much looking forward to the college experience at Penn State. “I am very excited to be able to experience Penn State,” she said. “There is a lot of school spirit there and they take pride in their school. And with my studies there, I get to explore what I am most passionate about.”

Tori said she enjoys music and would like to see Elton John in concert.

She has thoroughly enjoyed her experience at Holy Cross.

“It has been the best experience,” she said. “I transferred there as a freshman. I was very much supported by the teachers, administrators and students. It was very easy to make friends. Everyone was so kind, welcoming and supportive.”


Athlete of the Month: Leahy O’Conner

Athlete of the Month - Leahy O'Connor2By Steve Svetovich

Leahy O’Connor knows how to seize an opportunity. Take his experience at Holy Cross High School, for instance. Leahy enjoyed Holy Cross to the fullest.

Son of James and April O’Connor, Leahy, 18, was a four-year member of both the baseball and basketball teams at Holy Cross. When he wasn’t practicing or playing a game, Leahy concentrated on academics and will graduate with a highly impressive 3.9 grade point average.

Leahy will attend college at the University of Pittsburgh where he will study pre-law in the fall.

“I have been looking at the University of Pittsburgh for a long time,” he said. “My dad and my aunt both went to colleges in Pittsburgh. I have been to Pittsburgh a lot and love the city. I am really looking forward to it.”

The scholar-athlete learned his work ethic from his parents. “My parents taught me the value of hard work and about how to overcome failure in order to succeed,” Leahy said.

Leahy was named honorable mention as a junior and was selected first-team all-league as a senior for basketball. 

Athlete of the Month LeahyHe averaged 12.5 points per game as a small forward this past year for the Crusaders under veteran basketball coach Al Callejas.

He scored 650 career points at Holy Cross.

A superb center fielder on the baseball team, he batted .273 as a junior. He was disappointed over the cancellation of his senior baseball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was devastating not to play baseball,” he said. “We thought our team would strongly compete for the league and district title and even go further. It was tough not to be able to play as a senior.”

The hard working senior said he learned a lot from Holy Cross basketball coach Al Callejas. “He teaches you how to overcome difficulty. And that is how you become a success.”

Leahy also enjoyed playing for Holy Cross veteran baseball coach Sandy Menichetti. “He is a lot of fun to play for. He teaches us how to enjoy what we are doing while still working hard. He wants us to have fun, but still give our best effort.”

Leahy said his best academic subject is English. He is a member of Student Council, the National Honor Society and the History Club at Holy Cross.

He is very proud of the Holy Cross basketball team’s achievements this past year in winning the league and district titles and advancing to the second round in the state playoffs.

“Our hard work really paid off,” he said. “We worked hard the entire summer to get ready for the season. We were in the gym 10 months of the year working extremely hard. Our team success is really special because we put in the effort and it paid off.”

Leahy, who is a huge fan of the late Tom Petty, said he loved his four years at Holy Cross.

“It was just a great experience,” he said. “The atmosphere is the best. Everybody accepted me there. Seniors became friends with me when I was a freshman there. Likewise, I made sure to make friends with the freshmen when I was a senior. 

“That is the kind of school it is. It is close knit.”

And Leahy is not the kind of a young man who sits still. He is keeping busy during the COVID-19 pandemic studying and working. He works at a gas station in Archbald and does some landscaping work at Marywood University. 

“I’m trying to save some money for college,” he said. “I’m looking forward to Pittsburgh.”

UNICO Awards Scholarships to Local High School Graduates

unico holy cross scholarDunmore’s Keystone UNICO awarded its 2020 scholarships this May. The scholarships are based on the student’s GPA, hours of community service, having been accepted to a school of higher education and their school’s recommendation.

Dunmore High School and Holy Cross High School are allocated one scholarship each.

Gabriella Paris, daughter of Thomas and Melissa Parise, received the Holy Cross High School scholarship. Gabriella will attend Wilkes University majoring in nursing.

Pictured above from left are Sandy Collins, Keystone UNICO Scholarship Director; Gabriella Parise, scholarship recipient; Frank Coviello, Keystone UNICO President; and Mary Ann Coviello, Keystone UNICO President Elect.


Unico DHS scholarDunmore’s Keystone Chapter UNICO also presented a $1,000 Scholarship to Dunmore High School scholarship recipient Michael Hannah.

Michael is the son of Michael and Tiffany Hannah.  Michael will attend the University of Pittsburgh majoring in business.

Pictured from left are Frank Coviello, Keystone UNICO President, Michael Hannah, scholarship recipient; and Sandy Collins, Keystone UNICO Scholarship Director.